Manu expecting Fijian flair and physicality
After a couple of arm-wrestles against Tonga and the U.S.A., Manu Samoa are preparing for the different challenge Fiji is expected to bring to the table.
Samoa will play the home team at ANZ Stadium in Suva for their final Pacific Nations Cup game on Saturday at 8:15pm Samoan time.
Manu defence coach Tuifaasisina Alistair Rogers said they know it will be physical again, but Fiji play the game differently to their previous opponents.
“[They will field] big, fast men running at pace," he said.
“It’s an exciting challenge.”
Tuifaasisina said Samoa worked hard defensively in the 10-13 loss to U.S.A.
“Our defence in our half was pleasing.
“It showed a lot about the team’s willingness to work for each other, which is growing.
“We had one slip up that let them in, but overall we feel that we are moving in the right direction.”
It was more on attack where the team struggled, managing just one try in 7th minute and only scoring three points in the remainder of the match.
Manu Samoa attack coach Chris Latham said they are looking to transition quickly from defence.
“To shift the point of attack away from the point of the turn-over and pass to someone - generally a back - running at pace to where we have an overlap or where there is a miss-match between one of our backs up against a slower moving opposition forward.”
He said communication is key in making this happen, with accurate, loud calls required.
Both Samoa and Fiji took a win and a loss from their first two Pacific Nations Cup fixtures, meaning the match between Japan and U.S.A. will decide the tournament winner.
Although neither Pacific island nation can come out on top of the P.N.C., there is still plenty to play for in the buildup to the Rugby World Cup.
Tuifaasisina said they wanted to try out new combinations for last weekend’s game.
“There’s lots of competition in the squad and it was our intention to give others some game time versus the USA.”
No doubt a similar approach will influence who is selected to play Fiji in Samoa’s third-to-last game before the Rugby World Cup.